NEW YORK – That the Annual Scholarship Gala of the Hellenic Medical Society (HMS) in the Ballroom of the New York Palace on December 6 was a sold out affair is a tribute to the energy of the organizers, the outstanding honorees, and the cause: supporting the education and career development of the next generation of Hellenic physicians and scientists.
George Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D. who joined biotech powerhouse Regeneron in March 1989 as its founding scientist, received the Distinguished Physician Award. Nikos Mouryiaris, founder, CEO and president of cosmetics leader Mana Products, Inc. was named Distinguished Hellene and George Yatrakis, M.D., past president of HMS, was awarded Distinguished Colleague.
Eleni Andreopoulou, M.D. and her sister Panagiota Andreopoulou, M.D., were the gala chairs and served as its MCs. Stella Lymberis, M.D. and Evangelia Tsavaris were cochairs.
Panagiota Andreopoulou called the honorees “an exceptional group this year…They have created a positive legacy in the community… something each of us in this room should feel proud of.”
In her comments, Eleni Andreopoulou spoke of the HMS’s responsibility to transform today’s talented youth into the physicians and leaders of the future and emphasized that the society and the community must raise more money for scholarships.
Nicholas Mezitis, M.D., who is completing a four year tenure as President, was greeted with loud applause when he welcomed the guests and acknowledged the dignitaries, who included Amb. George Iliopoulos and Amb. Vasilios Philippou, consuls general of Greece and Cyprus respectively, NY State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and Amb. Loucas Tsillas.
Mezitis offered a brief history of the “oldest, largest organization of Greek physicians outside Greece, “whose prestige and success is “the product of the collective efforts of my colleagues.” He also praised organizations such as the Athens Medical Association and the Hellenic Relief Foundation, with whom the HMS works to assist the people of Greece.
Father Vasilios Louros offered the invocation of Archbishop Demetrios, who was unable to attend.
Roy Vagelos, M.D., retired Chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., introduced Yancopoulos. Vagelos told the story how Leonard Schleifer, M.D… Regeneron’s founder, president and CEO, brought the two exceptional Greeks aboard. Vagelos emphasized Yancopoulos’ mastery of both the science and technology of his field and noted that they are very excited about their pioneering work in genomic medicine.
Yancopoulos began by calling Vagelos “my hero” ever since his father read and told him about the Merck star in The National Herald. He wanted his son to purse a more lucrative career, but he told him “If you want to be a scientist, be like him.”
He praised his late father and his mother, who was present, and spoke of being inspired by his heritage. Being from Kastoria in Macedonia “I am a direct descendant of both Alexander the Great and Aristotle. If I have those things in my genes I can do anything.” He also said the community makes a difference in its member’s lives, and noted with pride that he was an HMS scholarship winner.
Nikos Mouyiaris was introduced by Philip Christopher, who told the story, common to many in the room, of Mouyiaris working his way through school in restaurants, starting his business with help from his brother, and then giving back with significant donations to his home village, his schools and to Greece through The Hellenic Initiative.
Mouyiaris first praised those who made his success possible, including his parents, the aunt and uncle who raised him, his teachers, his village and friends and not least, America “which has provided all of us with so many opportunities.”
He accepted the award “as a challenge” for him to do more given the existential challenges faced by Greece and Cyprus – and the Greek-American community. He praised the community for what it has accomplished but, but was eloquent in criticizing its shortcomings, noting the closings of Greek schools and the need to become much more organized – in general and with respect to its advocacy work with the media and in Washington.
“Good communities and businesses set goals. Great ones meet them,” he said.
George Dangas, M.D. introduced Yatrakis and praised his devotion to his patients, young students and colleagues.
Yatrakis thanked the HMS, saying “there is no greater honor than being respected by your peers.” Dangas noted as HMS president Yatrakis helped build the foundation for its current form.
Yatrakis congratulated Mezitis for his achievements during the past four years and emphasized the need to recruit more members to secure the organization’s future.
Mezitis introduced the new officers: George Liakeas, M.D., president; Stella Lymberis, M.D., 1st VP; Panagiota Andreopoulou, 2nd VP; Michael Plakogiannis, M.D.,secretary; Konstandinos Liakolios, M.D. Asst. Secretary; Dimitrios Karidis, M.D. treasurer and James Melis, M.D. Asst. treasurer.
The HMS President’s Award was presented to Panagiota Andreopoulou, Dr. Despina Komnimou, Dr. Stella Lymberis, Konstantinos Lambropoulos, Dr. Demetrios Markouizos, Nancy Papaioannou, President of Atlantic Bank, Evangelia Travaris and the Hellenic Relief Foundation.
Greetings were offered by Liakeas and Apostolos Tambakis, M.D. was also honored and addressed the gathering.
Dangas also read a letter from EOF, the Greek association of pharmacies, inviting the community and its medical professionals to join them in their efforts to help the people of Greece during the crisis.
HMS presented its annual Scientific Symposium Program and Scholarship Award Ceremony the night before the gala. Presentations were made by Yancopoulos, Georgia Panagopoulos, Ph.D., and Olga Spathis.
Alexander Sotiropoulos. M.D. is Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. High school student Anna Diyamandoglu won the Dr. Spyros and Vivian Mezitis Hellenic Fund award for her essay and the winners of the medical scholarship included Myra Trivellas, Penn State College of Medicine; Nicholas Voutsinas, SUNY Downstate Medical College; Effie Tsomos, Boston University School of Medicine and Diana Klopsis, SUNY Downstate Medical College.
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